NFL Analyst Sees Patriots Defender Among NFL’s Most Underappreciated

This player has been a productive member of the defense

Greg Dudek

55 minutes ago

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have always made the most out of undervalued talents.

And according to NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund, the Patriots are getting a pretty good deal when it comes to one of the team’s impact defenders.

Frelund, who uses a combination of factors to determine the most underappreciated players on each team in the league, pointed to safety Kyle Dugger as the player that fits that bill for the Patriots.

“Computer vision shows that Dugger ranked third among safeties in burst on run plays when aligned within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2022,” Frelund wrote. “PFF’s grade for Dugger in run defense is in alignment with that metric; he was one of only six safeties to post a grade of 75 or better against the run (76.7) and in coverage (78.3). His overall defensive grade (78.4) ranked 11th at the position.”

While Dugger hasn’t made the leap into stardom like some thought he would — he has yet to even make a Pro Bowl appearance — he has been a productive member of New England’s defense since the Patriots drafted him in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound safety with superb athleticism totaled 78 tackles and three interceptions — two of which went for touchdowns — which was down from a 92-tackle, four-interception campaign he had in 2021. Nevertheless, Dugger was an integral part of the defensive unit with his ability to play in the box and slow down rushing attacks while his coverage skills have improved but are still a work in progress.

But with Dugger still on his rookie contract and set to only make $2.7 million for this upcoming season, according to Spotrac, he represents tremendous value to the Patriots for the amount he produces.

Dugger’s fourth season in the NFL this fall will be especially significant as the 27-year-old can hit unrestricted free agency once the campaign comes to an end. And despite having a different skill set than Devin McCourty, Dugger might see even more of a workload with McCourty now retired.

If Dugger can ascend to a level he has flashed over the course of his career, he might have the dollar signs attached to him in the offseason that shows he is no longer underappreciated.

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